Happy New Year everyone, Rob here. 2014 is shaping up to be a busy year for me, especially by my usually contemplative standards. I’m beginning a thesis, on top of being pastor of a vibrant church, husband, father, speaker and blogger. It seemed wise to me to take advantage of these days of quiet in early January (especially in Hamilton!) to ask God for any words that he might have for me. The word I heard loudest was Fight! Fight for time with God, for my holiness, for my heart, for family time, for intimacy with Kiley, for joy, for hope, for love, for my church, for my friendships and the list goes on. Why fight? Because it is all opposed by an enemy who is angry and desperate to see God’s people go down.
I constantly need reminding of the need to engage in the spiritual battle that goes on within and around us. I forget you see. I forget that Satan is filled with rage, that he opposes our relationships and especially our relationship with God. He opposes our surrender to Christ, our confessions of faith and hope and our work for the kingdom of God. When I forget then I start to lose dependence on Christ and I become vulnerable to attack. The attacks are often subtle, sometimes not so. I’ve noticed that Satan’s big tactic against me is to get me to disengage – from relationships, from reality, from the kingdom work that needs to be done. This is because I’ve spent a lot of my life disengaged, passive, and apathetic. That is where my wounds led me and where my old self wants to go. Withdrawal and escape are where Satan tries to get me to go and too often in the past he has succeeded. My need then is for vigorous prayer, to remind myself of my identity in Christ, my place in his kingdom, of Christ in me as I engage with my responsibilities as a pastor, father and husband. My need is to stand firm with Christ and against Satan as he seeks to distract and discourage me. My need is to fight. What is your battle? Where do your wounds and flesh lead you? To control? Busyness? Arrogance? Timidity? Sexual immorality? Addiction? The battle looks different for all but the goal of the enemy is the same; to remove us from the battle where the kingdom of God pushes back against the dominion of darkness. The goal is to take us out! Apathy is not an option.
If this was easy we wouldn’t call it battle or warfare. But it’s not to be done in our strength. Ephesians 6:1 says, “be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.” It’s his armour that we put on and in his strength that we stand and fight. He equips and he empowers us. We battle against “the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 6:12).” This sounds overwhelming! But when we stand with Christ in his strength and engage with the spiritual battle, we enter into the triumph of Christ’s victory over all those unseen powers. We don’t need to win his victory all over again, but we do need to make his victory known to all the powers that oppose us. We stand in that victory, but we’re also aware that the victory party is still to come and until that great day our job is to proclaim that victory to powers and principalities who don’t want to hear it. They oppose the message but they can’t change it! They hate the messenger but they can’t change what Christ has done for us: “For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins (Colossians 1:13-14).”
Blessings to you. May we fight well in his strength and persevere in his love.